New Zealand will not pursue associate membership in the SKA Observatory

Published: 02 July 2019

The Government has decided that New Zealand will not join the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Observatory as an associate member.

The decision reflects official advice from MBIE that the benefits of associate membership in the next ‘construction’ phase of the project are not sufficient to account for its cost.

MBIE’s function as an investor in the New Zealand science system is to maximise the benefits of our funding decisions across the entire science system, taking into account its many competing priorities.

The benefits of New Zealand’s involvement in the first ‘design’ phase of the SKA project have been significant and are expected to be enduring. They include economic development opportunities created within the ICT sector and the strengthening of international relationships as a result of New Zealand’s membership in the SKA organisation.

More information about the background of the SKA project and New Zealand’s involvement


New Zealand has been involved in the Square Kilometre Array Organisation – the organisation responsible for the initial ‘design’ phase of the radio telescope project – since its origin in 2011.

The first phase of the project involved the development of new software technologies to manage the substantial data processing requirements of the completed telescope. New Zealand joined this phase to support and develop our software industry through engaging with one the world’s largest science projects.

The design phase of the project is expected to conclude in 2020, at which point the SKA organisation will dissolve and be replaced by the SKA Observatory, an international organisation that is being set up to construct and operate the telescope.

MBIE media contacts

Phone: 027 442 2141